INTERVIEWER: It’s just that I don’t—and I think a lot of people are in this same situation—I don’t see what’s so funny about the kinds of things you normally laugh at.
DR. CRUELTY: I don’t understand. I laugh at, uh, I laugh at things that are funny. Don’t we all?
But the things you laugh at are things most people find horrifying.
I’m sorry, I don’t want to be difficult, I still don’t ….
Okay, like Captain Fabulous being stuck in a pit that was filling up with snakes.
Oh my god! Mbwa-ha-ha-ha! Yes! Yes! That was hilarious! Look, I hate to explain humor because that’s the surest way to make it not funny anymore. But sure, fine, let’s examine that particular situation.
I had my island fortress, right? And have you ever tried to get an island fortress going? I had to get seed money, dupe an army of henchmen into joining me, drug them into staying loyal, MAINTAIN those dosages, storm an island, kill all the natives, ensure an adequate supply chain to live there full time—way trickier than you might think.
And then—THEN!—I don’t want to carve the lair into a skull because so overdone, you know? So I put out a request for proposals from designers and architects, interview a dozen or so, kill the ones I don’t like to insure my secrecy, and then finally settle on this octopus design I have now. Then I have to oversee the construction—again, not easy because the henchmen are not skilled contractors. Kill the architect. Construct the death ray, find a way to hack into, like, eight different communications satellites, make sure at least one henchman is a competent videographer, and only make my threat. And here’s something you might not know—
We were supposed to be talking about the supervillain sense of humor but you—AUGH!!!
Please don’t interrupt. Honestly. Anyhow, so I have this empire, right? And then Captain Fabulous comes in, karate chops my henchmen, doesn’t even kill them, I had to kill them later myself, and has me cornered right by the command chair. Then the whole Action Team shows up to help him and they have me surrounded but that’s when I hit the switch and they fall into the pit! And then the snakes come out! … You get it?!
No, I’m sorry, I still don’t—
They’re stuck in a pit! They can try to get out but they can’t! They will surely die down there, poisoned by snakes! They’re trapped!
Right, I understand that but—
It’s hysterical, come on! They. Can’t. Get. Out.
I’m still … Okay. Well, how about the laugh itself? Why is it that “mbwa-ha-ha-ha-ha” thing?
Right. Yeah, I do recognize that’s kind of different. I think that what happens is I get a rush from deep within, it’s this sort of soul joy. Comes from a different place than most people’s laughs. Because I’m better and more important, I suppose. And I hold my mouth closed for a little longer and THEN let it out and I find it’s more intense. That’s where the “mbwa” part comes from, that delay.
I must say, it seems almost joyless.
Well, you’re stupid. I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’re stupid. Because it’s a joyfulness that you can’t understand. And you’ll notice I laugh. A LOT. When I’m telling someone the world will be mine, all mine. When I’m noticing that someone’s weapons are useless against me. Or when I’m pointing out that someone had said I was mad, mad I tell you, well who’s mad now? Mbwa-ha—ha-ha! Oh, see? That’s funny! Wow, that totally put me in a good mood.
But given how often your plots have been foiled, like, every time, you must know your plans will never work, at least on some level. I mean, Captain Fabulous used the snakes as a lasso and arrested you. Doesn’t that throw off the humor a little knowing about your eventual comeuppance?
Well, the psychosis helps, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s one of those things where I know I could get counseling or medication to get this whole megalomania thing under control but, again, there are so many opportunities for joy. Whenever I have power over someone, it is just hilarious and I’m real hesitant to give that up.
Okay, uh, thanks for your time on this. I still don’t understand the supervillain sense of humor, I’m afraid.
Look, here’s a homework assignment for you. Find a kitten, steal it from someone or something. Kill the owner. Then dangle the kitten off the edge of a building. Heh-heh. See, now you have power over the kitt—MBWA-HA!—sorry sorry, just try it and see how funny it truly is
But that’s just it. I would feel horrible. That’s not funny. I think you’re crazy and evil and a horrible person.
Sure. Sure. Well, look, I can’t disagree with some of that. But I must say that this has all given me a real taste for comedy. Soooooo, I’m going to need you to get in the pit now.